After our trip to Fiordland we stayed at a peculiar place overnight. A less touristic area, in Beaumont. Imagine a bar with a hint of a mid-west US feeling. When entering there is a guy at the counter who looks surprised and starts mumbling something which should be English but we hardly understand him, we suggest to come back after parking the car. A grunt, nod and an arm wave direct us to park the car around the corner of the building, in what looks like a car graveyard. The next guy we see is wearing shorts and rain boots (it was not at all warm), cigarette in the corner of his mouth and is tinkering under the hood of a derelict car. We return to the bar and now find a girl there, she’s kind and speaks perfect English but sports the full “chav” look. We have a drink there (the best hot chocolate of the trip), and see some other lost tourists playing pool. Later we go to the shared kitchen to cook our meal. We meet two other characters that fit the scene. A gold miner covered in tattoos head to toe who has his diving suit (cause he spends his days in the river) hanging out drying, a super friendly guy who tells us a lot about the job. And a German guy looking for human interaction.
It might not be expected but the wifi was free and worked very well at this spot. That meant a blog update, downloading new Spotify tunes, backing up of photos and watching Zondag met Lubach. We watched it while having dinner, but at some point the connection started to fail. When we did the dishes back in the kitchen the German guy was happy about being able to “download a 280 MB video”. He forgot to close one of the tabs of his browser when he showed us something else on his laptop when that video turned out to be porn. Well, camping in NZ brings you to places. An oddly clean and organized spot of someone who clearly has OCD it our only stay at a guesthouse with a host who was both chatty and rude where there are a lot of hidden rules. But also the peaceful places, or more relaxed places.
After Beaumont we continue crossing the country to reach the east coast and then make our way up north. Driving east we pass Milton which is the most south we get in NZ (-46 degrees latitude). Next we stop in Dunedin as it is one of the bigger cities, we have a wonderful lunch and do an escape room (escaped!), and continue our way up along the coast. When we arrive in Christchurch we have made a complete circle since our start. We do another escape room (escaped again).
We change our course land inwards but continue to travel north. The highway sceneries are rewarding again with endless mountain views. We do another one of the Lonely Planet recommended day hikes close to St Arnold (the Mount Robert circuit hike) but it is a bit shorter than expected and maybe it doesn’t help that it is a cloudy day.
We have our last stay on the South Island in Havelock. NZ is the only place to have green shelled mussels and we try them for dinner. From Havelock to Picton to take the ferry to cross the water between the south and north island and we arrive in Wellington.
The west coast is definitely the most beautiful part of the South Island. Our highlights so far have been the two bigger hikes (Avalanche Peak in Arthur’s Pass, Roys Peak at Lake Wanaka) and the Milford Sound boat tour. There are just a few cities in the South Island, the rest is small villages of sometimes just a few streets. There are no multiple floor buildings (everything is one floor high) and they have Maori names like Kakaramea. We have crossed tons of creeks and all of them have a name, at some point the person naming them ran out of ideas and came with names as number 1, number 2 or funnier ones like pea soup creek.
Wellington is NZ’s capital but still isn’t really big. There are no campsites close by and we decide to book a night at a cheaper guesthouse. We end up in the Richmond house where we could tell a whole new story about but I’ll leave that be for now. In Wellington we went to a look out point on Mt Victoria, to the Sunday Market at the harbor, Te Papa Tongarewa museum (with a lot of NZ history), to a sports bar to view formula 1 opening in Sydney and we ended the day with drinks together with Chloë and Coco. They are traveling NZ as well but from north to south and we managed to meet luckily enough.
Imaging the horror I was in when you start to write these kind of messages in the middle of the night. Two more sleepless nights followed but now I’m on a good roll again with the nights.
The ongoing nightmare of the sand flies.
It has been a week since the terror attack of the sand flies (which are actually black flies) and we now know why they are called the nightmare of NZ. There is no progress, in the beginning there was itching, then I got the soothing cream and anti histamine pills of which I took one before sleeping as the itching would wake me up multiple times in the night and the pill would give a peaceful night. Then I had a good night without a pill and I thought I was doing fine and it was coming to an end. But now the proper nightmare part has started. The itching came back, one pill, two pills, it does not stop. It has been 7 days since that fateful night I got stung over 70 times. Searching the internet for a solution but there is none. We just find that for some people it can take weeks (yes, plural) to go away. I’m awake all night, I start to scratch but I shouldn’t and it makes me go crazy cause it’s all I want to do. If there is one thing everyone agrees to it is do not scratch. You could get a secondary infection and that’s next level nightmare. Let’s just hope this is the peak cause I can’t take much more.